GREENSBORO, N.C. – A four-run seventh inning coupled with a tremendous defensive play in the eighth sparked fourth-ranked Florida State’s (43-15) 6-4 come-from-behind victory over third-ranked Virginia (44-13) Saturday evening inside NewBridge Bank Park in the final game of pool play competition at the 2014 ACC Baseball Championship.
The Seminoles concluded pool play with a 2-1 record, while the Cavaliers finished at 1-2.
Trailing 4-1 in the bottom of the seventh, the Seminoles sent nine batters to the plate in the inning scoring four runs to regain the lead for good. Florida State took advantage of three walks and then strung together three consecutive two-out RBI singles to grab its first lead since the second inning.
With UVa starter Nathan Kirby out of the game, the Noles registered back-to-back one-out walks off Connor Jones. After a UVa pitching change brought on Josh Sborz (4-4), Josh Delph drove in the first run of the inning on an RBI groundout to second. The Seminoles then followed with three straight RBI singles by DJ Stewart, John Nogowski and Jose Brizuela to retake the lead at 5-4.
Virginia looked to answer another run scoring inning by the Seminoles in the top of the eighth but was denied by an outstanding defensive play by Justin Gonzalez at short. With runners at second and third and one out in the top of the eighth, head coach Mike Martin went to the bullpen and brought on Jameis Winston to face John La Prise. On the very first offering from the Seminole closer, La Prise sent a line drive in between short and third that Gonzalez made an outstanding diving catch on to double up Derek Fisher at second to retire the side.
FSU would add an insurance run in the bottom of the eighth on a sac-fly to center by Casey Smit. The Seminoles loaded the bases off Nick Howard on a single by John Sansone and walks to Gonzalez and Delph. Smit followed with a sac-fly to push FSU’s lead to 6-4.
Winston returned to pitch the ninth and retired the Cavaliers in order on a pair of strikeouts and a fly out to record his seventh save of the season.
The win evened the season series with Virginia while it snapped a three-game losing streak to the Cavaliers in the ACC Tournament.
The win also made Martin the all-time winningest coach in ACC Tournament history moving the Hall of Fame coach ahead of Clemson’s Bill Wilhelm for the top spot. The win was Martin’s 65th career victory in the tournament.
Gage Smith earned the win to improve to 5-2 on the year. The redshirt senior worked 1.1 scoreless innings in relief on Saturday night allowing two hits while striking out two.
Nogowski, Brizuela and Sansone all finished with two hits apiece, while six different Seminoles drove in a run in the win.
Neither starting pitcher would factor into the decision on Saturday night.
Luke Weaver left after 6.0 innings in which he allowed four runs on six hits as he struck out six and tied a career-high with four walks. Kirby also went 6.0 innings allowing an unearned run on four hits. He finished with two walks and a pair of strikeouts.
The Noles took advantage of a Cavalier error in the second to grab the early lead Saturday night. Nogowski beat out an infield single to second to open the frame and reached second on a fielding error at short on a fielder’s choice groundball off the of Brizuela. Nogowski would score two batters later when Sansone dropped an RBI single down the line in right to give Florida State the early 1-0 lead.
The lead was short lived as Virginia scored three runs in the top of the third to take a 3-1 advantage. Weaver allowed his first base runner of the night as he walked Matt Thaiss to open the inning. Brandon Downes followed with a two-run home run to left, his seventh of the season, to give UVa its first lead of the night at 2-1. Daniel Pinero and Mike Papi kept the inning alive with two outs on a single and a walk, respectively, while Joe McCarthy drove in Pinero for the third run of the inning with a single to left.
Virginia added to its lead in the sixth on another two-out hit. Weaver issued a two-out walk to La Prise and then was charged with a balk moving the Cavalier third baseman into scoring position. One batter later Thaiss singled to right to bring home La Prise to give the Cavaliers a 4-1 advantage. UVa looked to add more on a double down the line by Downes but a great relay throw from Stewart to Gonzalez to Danny De La Calle was just in time to cut down Thaiss at the plate.
Florida State will return to Tallahassee where the Seminoles will await their fate in the 2014 NCAA Baseball Championship. The NCAA will announce the 16 Regional sites on Sunday, May 25 at 9:00 p.m. The field of 64 will be announced on ESPNU at 12 noon on Monday, May 26.
As always, fans can receive in-game updates on Twitter @FSU_Baseball. Also, do not forget to like the Seminole Baseball team on Facebook at www.facebook.com/FSUBaseball and to follow the team on Instagram (NoleBaseball). Live stats will be available through the ACC’s website.
Source: FSU Sport Information